Mobile phone collection for insect protection

Together for a better ecological balance: mobile phone collection with with AfB, Telefonica Germany and NABU. We provide boxes to collect used devices.

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[Translate to English:] Die Aufarbeitung von Handys schont wertvolle Ressourcen. Foto: AfB gGmbH

An employee at AfB is disassembling a mobile phone

An employee at AfB is disassembling a mobile phone. Photo: AfB gGmbH.

Box for used mobile phones

We collect mobiles phones to protect the environment. Photo: AfB gGmbh


Mobile phones contain important raw materials in a very small space

According to a representative survey by the digital association Bitkom, around 124 million functioning mobile phones are laying unused in German households.

AfB, Telefónica Deutschland, the Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU) and other partners are working together to ensure that functioning mobile phones are refurbished and remarketed by AfB. Used devices that cannot be resold are recycled professionally and ecologically. 

For the mobile phones collected, Telefonica donates a fixed sum to NABU each year, which goes into the NABU insect protection fund.

"Mobile phones contain raw materials in very high concentrations," explains Sabine Lemke from NABU. In mobile phones, for example, one finds cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold - so-called "conflict minerals", which are not only valuable, but are usually also mined under questionable conditions in Asia or Africa. During further processing, for example into printed circuit boards and chips, toxic chemicals can get into the groundwater.

This is why AfB, together with Telefónica Germany and NABU, has initiated the collection of mobile devices that are no longer needed.


Number of collected devices rises every year

The collection campaign is enjoying growing popularity: the number of devices handed in is increasing every year since the beginning of the collection in 2016. The total has more than doubled in the past four years. Therefore, at the beginning of 2023, we look back on a proud record of 700,000 devices collected.


Refurbishment in the sense of the circular economy is best

The professional refurbishment of smartphones ("refurbishment") results in enormous savings of greenhouse gases and resources. The Fraunhofer Institute confirms that "by refurbishing a smartphone, about 14 kg of resources and 58 kg of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases can be saved. (Source: Greenhouse gas and resource savings through reuse of smartphones and tablets, by Dr. Daniel Maga et al. in Müll und Abfall, 5/18)

The AfB deletes the data on the functioning mobile devices using a certified process and, if possible, prepares them for remarketing. All other devices are mechanically destroyed and handed over to a melting business in Europe for resource recovery. The processes for the disposal of disused equipment are subject to annual monitoring.


So the more mobile phones can be remarketed or recycled, the better for the environment.

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